Let's keep girls in school

by American Foundation for Children with AIDS
Let's keep girls in school
Maria eating porridge at school
Maria eating porridge at school

Dear friends,

What an amazing year it has been for AFCA's children, thanks to YOU!  Because of YOU, thousands of children are thriving and hopeful.  Because of YOU, countless children are healthy and they have returned to school.  Because of YOU, hundreds of children had good food to eat this year.  Because of YOU, hundreds of children have livestock and seeds with which to start small businesses. And because of you, children like Maria not only eat well, but also go to school, dreaming of a future free of poverty. We don't have enough words to thank you for what you've done because it is huge...it is life changing.

Thank you for caring for the little ones we serve and for giving them a brighter future.  You are the ones who allow us to keep working for them, providing them with medicine, medical supplies, clean water, food, school fees and supplies, livestock, seeds, self-reliance and HOPE.

As you make your end of the year giving decisions, please keep us in mind so we can continue helping children in 2015 and beyond.

We wish you the best year ever, full of every blessing and happiness imaginable, knowing you are a hope-giver.  If you'd like to learn even more about what we do or how you can meet some of the children you have helped, please contact me at tweaver@AFCAids.org.  I'd love to chat with you!

On behalf of the children,

 

tanya

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Mwanaidi
Mwanaidi

Please allow me to introduce you to Mwanaidi. She is 19 years old and belongs to a family of three.

Our partner in Mombasa connected with Mwanaidi after she shared her plans of getting babysitting work. Together, they explored the challenges she would face. Mwanaidi accepted that it was going to be difficult to take medicines in other people's homes, especially with no disclosure of her HIV status. The chances of her being stigmatized were high, to a point of losing her job. However, her greatest challenge would be keeping clinic dates and attending support group meetings. Mwanaidi understands how important her visit to the clinic and support group are to keeping her healthy.

Mwanaidi explored other options. She is now successfully engaged in a vocational course of dress making.  She is active and engaged, filling her with hope for the future.  Do you realize that YOU have helped her to be active and engaged?  By supporting our feminine hygience kit program, you have made a difference in the life of this young woman.  She doesn't miss school because of her period each month.  Mwanaidi can focus on her studies every day!  She is filled with hope for the future.

Thanks to your generosity, a second shipment of feminite hygience kits left our warehouse last month.  What does this mean for our kids in Africa?  Two hundred young girls will be following in Mwanaidi's footsteps.  They will get an education and change the world.  And you are a part of this change!

Would you like to learn more about our projects and the work we are doing every day? Please write us at tweaver@AFCAids.org. And, check us out on Facebook and Twitter and see what else AFCA is up to (@AFCAids).

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Sara
Sara

Every girl in the world deserves education, safety, and dignity.

I don’t care where they live, these are basics every girl should count on. Yet, in some places of the world, girls simply cannot obtain an education. It is not because her father demands that she stay at home and work. It is not because she doesn’t want to receive an education. It is something more basic – her period. Yes, this is something we don’t usually think about and much less, talk about. No one wants to discuss something like a girl’s “time of the month”, yet this basic biological function is what stops girls from becoming educated, time and time again.

Why is this happening? It is usually because girls and women don’t have access to sanitary pads, either because they aren’t available where they live or they are too expensive for them to purchase. In the countries where AFCA works, a small package of pads costs more than two days wages. How in the world can a family afford to purchase such a luxury for their girls? How does an orphan girl find that kind of money?

Answer: they don’t.

Result: They start missing a few days of school every month and soon, they fall behind. Most of them eventually get so behind that they drop out. Or, there are the girls who are so desperate to become educated that they resort to using corn cobs, cow manure, leaves, rocks, newspaper, mattress stuffing, or dirty rags. This, of course, leads to all sorts of infections and is in no way appropriate for anyone.

We know that if Sara (shown here) graduates from high school, she will likely marry later, she will have less children, she will get better jobs, she has a greater chance at staying HIV free, and the children she has are healthier. This is not only good for Sara, but also for her community. Some studies have shown that when we provide a girl with underwear and sanitary pads, her chances of staying in school are 30 to 50 percent higher. That’s pretty remarkable, in my opinion. In fact, AFCA supports a school in rural Uganda and when we introduced feminine products to our offerings to the school, girl matriculation and retention in school sky-rocketed. The best student in the school this year happens to be a girl and yes, she will rock this world one day. All because she has the feminine products she needs.

Think of your daughter, your niece, your granddaughter, your friend. Would you want them to use any of the items our girls have to use, just so they could go to school? Or, would you like them to drop out of school, giving up a potentially bright future, just because they can’t afford a packet of pads? Of course not! If I were writing about your daughter, you know that you’d do something to help the situation, just as I would. Just like we are doing for the Saras of this world.

AFCA provides feminine hygiene kits to girls in our programs AND we train them on making their own so that if they want to, they can start a small business. There is nothing quite like watching a girl when she is told that she no longer has to miss school because of her period – the shy smile, the look of hope, the clap of her hands, the standing up and hollering out loud. Ah, it is good to watch. Why? Because, you educate a girl and you change the world.

Today, we invite you to be part of our work once again, keeping girls infected and/or affected by AIDS in school. Join our back-to-school campaign today by donating here, share with your friends through email and social media and become a smile-maker, a hope-giver, and a life-changer.

Learning how to sew kits in Zimbabwe
Learning how to sew kits in Zimbabwe
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Teaching girls about pads
Teaching girls about pads

I think that sometimes we don’t feel we can change the world.  And, maybe we can’t because there is a lot of hurt in this world.  But, if we each give of the skills and talents we each have and if we share what we have received, we can sure change someone’s life, even if it is a small change.

By itself, a feminine pad is no big deal.  But, to keep a girl in school by providing her with the hygiene items she needs is life changing.  If she finishes high school she’ll marry later in life, will have less children and will get a better job.  This, of course, helps her family, her village and her country. 

We arrive in Matopos, Zimbabwe, ready to get do some work in the community.  We are excited because, after all, there is much to do and we are a willing group.  Some of the group start work on two playgrounds for schools while a group of women start work on putting together reusable hygiene kits for girls.  We work hard, cutting cloth throughout a day and a half, putting the various parts of the kits together – liners, shields, panties, washcloth, soap, directions, cloth bags, and zip lock bags.  Sounds crazy, but with this kit, a girl won’t miss school due to having her period.  In fact, if she takes proper care of her kit, she can use it for 3 years!

With completed kits in hand, a group of seven of us went to a boarding school where 50 girls live and learn, expecting to hand out the kits and teach a few of girls how to sew kits.  We surely didn’t expect 32 of the girls to want to learn how to sew the kits!  But, learn they did!  It only took two classes to teach the girls how to use the kits and how to make their own.  About 10 girls are excited to start their own business, which is fantastic.

One thing we know – these girls are very thankful that someone thought of them and that something as small as a pad became big to us at AFCA because we know how important it is for a girl to stay in school.

Thank you for supporting this project, friends!  Thank you for caring.  We have so many other girls who’d like to stay in school, so please share this project with many.  In fact, from August 1-30, we will be participating in a contest to receive matching funds from GlobalGiving.  We need 10 people to create fundraisers connected to this project and to each raise a minimum of $400 from a minimum of 10 different people.  If you’d like to take part in this challenge, we welcome you because if we meet our goal, we will receive matching funds to help more girls stay in school.

PS. I can't upload photos from where i am currently am, as the internet connection is too weak.  When I return to USA in mid-August, I'll be sure to upload some!

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What is in a kit?
What is in a kit?

Friends, because of YOU, 43 girls will be able to stay in school, not having to miss classes due to a biological occurence over which they have no control.  This means that YOU have just changed the course of the future for 43 girls, including Florence, seen in this short video: Florence.  Not only will Florence continue receiving the school supplies required by her school - paper, pens, books, etc - but she will also receive the reusable feminine kits she needs.

I am so excited about the girls staying in school that AFCA became an official chapter of Days for Girls and I purchased the materials needed to make pads a few weeks ago.  I sent this to Papoli, Uganda, along with all the directions on how to create the kits the girls need and this is the response we received just yesterday:

"When we had a community leadership meeting last week on the importance of girl child education and I told them that on top of the support AFCA has been giving girls for the monthly need, we are to get a technology that will enable us not only to provide for the girls, but also be able to make some sales, the community leaders got so exited about this new development. Our technical staff is now planning how we will be able to run the production line in a sustainable way and get as many schools as possible to register with us for supplies.

Thank you so much for this great gift and I am sure that in some future we will have stories told by these girls on what helped them remain in school and achieve their goals."

How neat is that?  We will send as many kits as we can from here (we have MANY girls who need them) but we will also do our best to create jobs in the villages themselves so that older girls and women can create these kits that all girls will need.  

YOU are part of this and I hope you realize how important your role in keeping these girls in school is. Please share this project with other women - we all go through the same thing each month.  Imagine doing so without the proper sanitary pads we can purchase so easily in any store!  I know you understand and that is why you supported this project.  Now, I ask you to please share it with many others - let's keep girls in school!

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Organization Information

American Foundation for Children with AIDS

Location: Harrisburg, PA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AFCAids
Project Leader:
tanya weaver
HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania United States
$14,578 raised of $20,000 goal
 
358 donations
$5,422 to go
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Pay Bill: 891300
Account: GG16114

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